THE IMAGINARY LOOK from Chagall to the dream. Interview with Delilah Gutman and Andrea Gottfried, by Francesca Bianchi  

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The FuoriOpera ensemble, directed by Andrea Gottfried, on the occasion of the performance of the opera The Black Glove by Delilah Gutman, Palazzo Blu Auditorium in Pisa



My city is a mystery / where stone arches / they are suspended in the sky” is the opening song of The Groom in “The Black Glove / Chagall and the spiritual in the dream” by Delilah Gutman, also the author of the libretto.

Represented in concert form with public success in an absolute preview on 4 December 2022 at the Blu Auditorium in Pisa by the FuoriOpera ensemble directed by Andrea Gottfried - concertmaster on the piano - with the wonderful voice of Anna Chierichetti and the energetic voice by Daniele Girometti, the work was commissioned by the Nessiah Festival, as part of an edition whose theme was "Jewish art: between precepts and creativity".
We write about it with Delilah Gutman and Andrea Gottfried!

Delilah, what meaning does your work have in light of this theme?

When I begin to explore the multiplicity of meanings that a theme invites us to explore, a mosaic of questions is generated in me. The theme is projected into the surrounding reality, into everyday life and questioning myself is equivalent to opening windows and looking elsewhere. Every window – through its glass, its shadows and its shape – is an opportunity to experience a reflection of light, in your own home and on the streets of a city. But, there are many windows and among these there are some special ones made of time, poetry and sound, where words can shed light and color on the earth, Antonia Pozzi reminds us of this in her poetry from sublime thought of 1933, Reflexes. Marc Chagall painted the frontier between tradition and modernity, between the archaic and the contemporary, between the dream and the most impetuous present, between transcendence and matter, between precepts and creativity - if we can speak of a frontier. What about a story is authentic and what about it is a dream? Isn't it also the authentic dream? Can love bring about change and release sparks of hope? What is love? How does tradition and its precepts shape the dream and dialogue with our history? My work explores the importance of the question itself, it comes to embody the imaginary gaze of the passerby who stops to observe The black glove.


Delilah Gutman

The story of Chagall's life takes place through an annotated memory that comes alive through the voice of the Badchen, the poet master of ceremonies: the day of their wedding, of which we find no trace among the stories that Marc Chagall and his bride Bella Rosenfeld left us in their texts – “My life”, “Sentimental diary”, “ Like a flame that burns” and other writings.
Chagall's pictorial work from which the story arises is
The Black Glove which in 2023 meets the centenary of its genesis, since the particularity of this work was that it was painted over a period of many years, between 1923 and 1948. Just another work by Chagall – The green eye – follows a similar genesis, created between 1926 and 1944. Ne The black glove, which began between the two wars and ended four years after Bella's death, the painter puts his entire life as if in a visual and sentimental diary, like the memory of a dream: the mother house and its village, his wife and the great love for his wife Bella, the red rooster of the Holy Scriptures that announces death, the clock that stops time in memory, the Book of Life and the roots of tradition.

Why did you choose to tell the story of Marc and Bella's wedding day?

The idea arose during a writing workshop that I followed with Laura Forti. It is from Chagall's own visual work – The black glove – full of the mystery to which the poem leads us, that I set off on a journey to contemplate the clues among the pictorial annotations: the groom and the enormous bouquet of flowers, the bride, the shtetl and the figure on the door greeting or waiting, the clock and time... can the wedding day stop time? Perhaps, if we live every day of our life turning our gaze to the beloved to recognize him as our husband and renew the strength of a spark that has within itself the root of the divine. Perhaps, if the look that the beloved gives us allows us to recognize ourselves in our hearts as a bride. At the same time, the day of their wedding is a time that offers the word the possibility of delving into a very particular historical and narrative moment, as well as giving us the possibility of exploring a wide variety of affections: the wedding between Marc and Bella takes place in 1915, we are in the First World War and the bride's family is not in favor of this union for various reasons. In the booklet I let it be the word of Badchen to evoke the drama of the historical context “Those who have relatives on the borders have no news, they wait for a postcard or a letter to reassure them, at least for a few days. This is an intimate story of the groom, as of many guests gathered in this temple. It's a wedding, we know that well badchen, takes us by the hand, takes us through memories, those that are inside us, like the dreams of a home. A wedding, believe me, can make us rejoice just as it can make us sad. How many of us, after all, had homes elsewhere, burned by racist hatred and the thirst for power of those who serve the master of the moment and betray without mercy, we are lame families". 

To which Bella responds with the lines of her song, “Clouds of puzzles they are the conflicts and the joys. / I inhabit the earth / and I do not reject sadness, / a mediator between feelings, / a knight between emotions.  Who is the Badchen and why does he elevate him to the narrative voice of the work?

The Badchen he was in the Jewish tradition a poet, a storyteller, a master of ceremonies. He has the task of remembering the stories of Talmud he was born in Tanakh (Hebrew Bible), as elsewhere i Trovieri they told the stories of King Arthur and the Round Table, or epic poems. But also to cheer up with songs or lead the traditions of a moment of ceremony. Marc Chagall cites the figure of Badchen in his autobiography and I stumble across this figure: a mediator between poetry and the word, between complexity and simplicity, between irony and responsibility. A mediator in the imagined memory between Marc and Bella.

For a Festival, the choice to commission and present a new work is a manifesto of the desire to inhabit contemporaneity and memory through possible new languages. What led you to invite Delilah Gutman to participate in the Festival?

Every year with the Festival we set ourselves the goal of telling the story of Jewish culture through slices of real life. Delilah with her socio-cultural commitment is a healthy bearer of all those values we believe in and the commission was simply an act of sharing.


Andrea Gottfried

“The black glove/Chagall and the spiritual in the dream” follows the production of two other works dedicated to art and the meeting with a great artist of the twentieth century, the work “Jeanne and Dedò” and the chamber work for voice narrator, soprano and piano “Il Sogno/Modigliani e Jeanne Hébuterne” (CD Stradivarius 2020, with presentation in the libretto by Renzo Cresti and published by Curci), around Amedeo Modigliani with libretto by Manrico Murzi. And, among his artistic collaborations, there are several collaborations with the field of visual art; among the most recent is the presentation of  Singing Sculpture #1 “The seed generates the word” – permanent installation at the J. Beuys Museum in Bolognano, in Paradise Plantation - And Singing Sculpture #2 “Love generates the earth”, a permanent installation at the Fondazione Verità in Locarno, of which she is the author in both works. Is there a link between your compositional writing and the visual dimension of painting and sculpture? 

That of exploring the time between the matter that generates - the sound, the color, the shape - and the invisible that weaves connections, through the number that unites and separates, a theme dear to Manrico Murzi, poet and friend whose guide accompanies me on the journey through poetry.

The Nessiah Festival has reached its twenty-sixth edition and represents a moment of dialogue in Pisa between the Jewish community and the city. In this context, what value does having chosen a subject like Chagall and the work have? What are your next goals and projects? 

Over time, Chagall became an iconographic artist beyond his Jewish roots. The richness of Jewish culture is also given by its being in symbiosis with the territory that hosted it, which is why telling an episode of Chagall's private life through Delilah's work seemed to us to be the best way to tell a piece of history of the early twentieth century.


Concert “Mi lagnerò tacenDO”, organized by the ROF and the “G. Rossini” at the Experimental Theater of Pesaro

The musical language of "The Black Glove" meets the liturgy of the word come
the memory of
Freilech of Jewish klezmer music, whose rhythm emerges as a wave that animates the work to transform into the unknown, be it a waltz or a central tango, an interlude to evoke the simplicity of Song and of theAir. The variety of a language that makes use of the expressive research of the twentieth century and of a counterpoint between contemporaneity and the most archaic traditions, from classical to popular music, characterizes a vision where multiplicity responds to a common denominator, a frontier where a mediator can be the human being or nature (as in his poetry We are coral, / branches of blood, / roots of miracles. / We are coral / with impalpable colors / and / breaths of silence. / We are coral, / home for the multitude / of nameless creatures, / a sign for those who / dive into our sea, / without fearing the abyss, / without making signs. / We are coral / veiled with life / mediator of the ocean.), a thought that runs through both his projects where civil commitment is intertwined with music, and those where the center is poetry itself, an area where we find two of his publications, “Alfabeto d'amore” (Raffaelli Editore 2019), and “Alfabeto of opposites” (Raffaelli Editore 2021).
What are your recent and upcoming projects? 

The poetic ballad “L'esule/Omaggio a Gioacchino Rossini” for tenor and orchestra, performed for the first time on February 28th with the interpretation of Pietro Adaìni with the shining voice, accompanied by the Orchestra of the Rossini Conservatory, conducted by the baton of impeccable Maestro Luca Ferrara. The concert was part of Rossini's "non-birthday" event "Mi lagnerò tacenDO!!!" organized by the Opera Rossini Festival in collaboration with the G. Rossini Conservatory of Pesaro at the Teatro Sperimentale of Pesaro (from an idea by Fabio Masini with the participation of Elio (Elio e le storie tese). A common thread runs through the two productions, since in a similar way to “The black glove/ Chagall and the spiritual in the dream”, where I make use of the voice of the Badchen as a storyteller, a troubadour – even in the poetic ballad I find in the voice of the exile the expression of a storyteller of the future and at the same time of the most archaic past, whose journey generates a new language, where musical identities project physical and soul geographies (as a nomad in search of a homeland, of a heaven and an earth for home). This ballad too it will be published by Curci in the Stilnovo series, Edizioni Curci and CIDIM-Italian National Music Committee.
In the first weeks of March “Esistenze. Two-voice singing”, a new collection of poems, written in two voices, precisely, with the Turkish poet Erkut Tokman. This will be followed by the development and implementation of the “Poetica” project with the Meissa Duo, which will involve me as a composer, poet and voice, in words and singing.


* Photos of Delilah Gutman are by © Sergio Franceschini   





Francesca Bianchi, from Pisa, graduated in History and criticism of cinema with a thesis on the relationship between cinema and literature in the filmography of Paolo and Vittorio Taviani, has always been involved in news and communication, writing for various newspapers and taking care of press offices on the occasion of exhibitions and events cultural, but also for associations and business entities. Journalist, she currently plays the role of editor in the 'team' of Pisa University Press (publishing house of the University of Pisa). In 2021, together with two colleagues, he founded the communication agency and online magazine Badalì News and has collaborated with the Pisan editorial team of "La Nazione" for over 20 years. Among his recent publications is the volume “Pisa è Tuttomondo”, dedicated to Keith Haring's latest mural. 


Andrea Gottfried, born in Florence in 1974, began studying the piano at a very young age, approaching the instrument at the age of five. Even before obtaining his piano diploma, he gained fruitful experience in the musical field, without neglecting further studies. From 1991 to 1993 he studied composition under the guidance of Maestro Roberto Becheri, professor of composition at the Conservatory of Ferrara.
In 1995 he obtained a piano diploma at the “N. Paganini” in Genoa under the guidance of Maestro Claudio Proietti, and immediately undertook further studies with Maestro Christa Butzberger.

In 1996 he attended the Orchestra Conducting course held by the illustrious Maestro Sergiu Celibidache in Munich, until his passing. He then continued his orchestral conducting studies under the guidance of Maestro Sergiu Celibidache's only assistant, Maestro Konrad von Abel, with whom he also studied musical phenomenology, chamber music and choir conducting.
Since 1997, as artistic director, he has organized the Jewish music and culture festival “Nessiàh, a journey into the Jewish cultural imagination” which takes place annually in the municipalities of the provinces of Pisa, Lucca and Livorno. Now in its 26th edition, it is one of the longest running of its kind in the world.

His concert career, undertaken since 1990, sees him present in various musical seasons, as a soloist or in chamber ensembles. He studied Composition and Conducting at the Rubin Academy of Tel Aviv, in Israel, earning a degree "Magna cum laude", deepening the repertoire of contemporary music with Maestro Zsolt Nagy at the prestigious Jerusalem Music Center.
In 2003 he was awarded the “O. Partos” by the State of Israel for the best performance of a piece of contemporary Israeli music of the year.
He founded the Milano Chamber Ensemble orchestra, which he conducted in various Italian cities for the 2005-2006 season.
He published the book “Musica d'Israele – a life experience” with the Proedi publishing house of Milan.
From 2010 to 2019 he had a managerial stint within a multinational high-tech company specializing in technological platforms for online games. During this experience he obtained the Executive MBA from SDA Bocconi in Milan in 2013.
In 2016 he founded the FuoriOpera project in Milan, with which he regularly performs in various Italian cities, promoting the rediscovery of the operatic heritage through cultural star-up management.


Delilah Gutman (Madrid, 1978) is a pianist and composer, singer and poet. He lives and works in Rimini, looking for new paths of feeling.
He is a teacher in Composition at the “G. Rossini” of Pesaro and editor of Finnegans, where he writes for “Chiaro Scuro/Interviews on the present” And "Masha and the others/Women and rights”. Composer, she has world premieres in Italy and abroad, as well as radio broadcasts and several recordings.
He publishes with Stradivarius and Curci. Previous publications include the catalog of Ut Orpheus and Sinfonica.
Performer, pianist and singer, he carries out concert activity in Italy and abroad, as a soloist and in chamber ensembles, exploring in the context of his personal musical research project MAP - music, art and poetry - the frontier between art, music and repertoire ethnic, in relation to the language of art music in the West.
She has performed in Italy, Czech Republic, Israel, Mexico, France, USA, India, Switzerland. For her constant commitment to intercultural dialogue, she was awarded the honor of "Ambassador of Israel-Italy Friendship" in 2012 on the occasion of one of her concerts in Israel. She is a member of SIMC.
A poetess, she published with Raffaelli Editore the books of poems "Alfabeto d'amore", with the preface by Manrico Murzi and the afterword by Lucrezia De Domizio Durini, and "Alfabeto degli Diritti", with the preface by Manrico Murzi. Soon to be published by the same publisher and with a preface by Manrico Murzi, is “Esistenze. Two-voice singing” in collaboration with the Turkish poet Erkut Tokman, with whom he is part of the poetic movement Açik Şiir (Open Poetry). She is the author of the Singing Sculpture #1 “The seed generates the word” – permanent installation at the J. Beuys Museum in Bolognano, in the Paradise Plantation – and Singing Sculpture #2 “Love generates the earth”, permanent installation at the Fondazione Verità in Locarno .


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